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Trader Vic's, Oakland, CA (restaurant)

Pages: 1 2 70 replies

Name:Trader Vic's
Street:6500 San Pablo Avenue

This is the original Trader Vic's restaurant, formerly "Hinky Dink's" which was founded by Victor Jules Bergeron in 1934. After a trip to Southern California, "Trader Vic" Bergeron decided to change the decor and name of his restaurant:
"We went to a place called the South Seas that doesn't exist anymore and even visited Don the Beachcomber in Hollywood. In fact, I even bought some stuff from Don the Beachcomber. When I got back to Oakland and told my wife about what I had seen, we agreed to change the name of our restaurant and change the decor. We decided that Hinky Dinks was a junky name and that the place should be named after someone we could tell a story about. My wife suggested Trader Vic's because I was always making a trade with someone. Fine, I became Trader Vic."

[ Edited by: Trad'r Bill 2009-08-18 22:07 ]

[ Edited by: Trad'r Bill 2009-08-19 01:20 ]

GI and his wife at TV's Oakland the night before he left for duty overseas (1945) from Uncle Trav's find at http://www.tikicentral.com/viewtopic.php?topic=33597&forum=5&7

From the August 1950 issue of Holiday Magazine:

[ Edited by: Trad'r Bill 2010-03-04 23:27 ]

Another from Holiday Magazine:

(I found these in the tikiroom gallery)

Trad'r Bill,

Great photos, here's an old matchbook.


Here is postcard showing the main dining room overlooking the Chinese Ovens.


Nice postcard DC - I've never seen that one.

Here's another matchbook:

[ Edited by: Trad'r Bill 2009-11-25 14:30 ]

[ Edited by: Trad'r Bill 2009-11-25 14:40 ]

Here is the other drink menu mailer from the Oakland Trader Vic's that shows the famous cartoon style drink menu cover.


(extra copy 4 sale on ebay)

I just bagged this one on Ebay:

-Trad'r Bill

Time to post my Menus from this location:

Here's a couple more I wanted to post:

Photo I snagged of a photo hanging in the TVs warehouse:

...great look on the Trader's face here:

...and a pretty clear shot of the famous sawfish rostrum (which now hangs in the Emeryville TV):

This shot of the bar also shows the sawfish rostrum:

Great artist's rendering in this porcelain tile (which I just lost in auction):

-Trad'r Bill

[ Edited by: Trad'r Bill 2010-02-28 00:26 ]

Tradr Bill,

Nice singed menu, and thanks for those photos. Can't quite make out the logo on the front of old menu, is it the same one used on others?

Here are a few more photos from the web site showing a young Trader Vic and the small confines of the original restaurant.


Hey DC-

It looks like a more primitive version of the later logo...

Here's some pics of the gift shop in the Oakland location. I used to think this was actually in SF at 20 Cosmo, but this shot is from the August 1950 Holiday Magazine. 20 Cosmo didn't open until 1951:

From SF Public Library:

SFPL archive again:

...and another picture of a picture from the TVs warehouse (sorry about the glare):

Trad'r Bill

Excellent photos, Trad'r Bill!


Do I see PNW?

Trad'r Bill,

Thanks for the new photos, here is one more of Trader Vic at the Oakland bar and the sawfish sign from Life magazine.


...some more photos of photos I snagged - this time they were hanging in TVs Emeryville:

full photo:

posed? I think yes - what's up with that crooked stogie?

here's the sawfish rostrum as it looks now... you can barely make out the writing:

and here's the same (pnw?) carving which used to be in the Oakland gift shop...

Thanks for all the great photos you keep adding, Bill!

I really like that porcelain tile on the previous page with the artist's rendering of the building.

Here's an article from the July 28, 1938 edition of the "Oakland Tribune". It pins-down the 1938 date of Vic's first trip to Havana that's mentioned over in the Chicago TV thread:


It also gives great insight into the early conversion of Hinky Dinks from a antler-decorated sandwich/beer bar to a mixed-drink bar. At this stage it looks like he's still harvesting drink recipes from his travels, but hasn't started inventing his own yet. The tropical decor is just starting, and he hasn't changed the name of the restaurant yet to "Trader Vic's".

Whoa, thanks for the article Sabu! That really captures the major turning point in Trader Vic's history. I never knew about this early "Ladies Lounge". I wonder: was that just a ploy to get more guys in the door? Probably...

On that note, I'm going to add the early famous pictures:

Here is a matchbook featuring Trader Vic at Hinky Dinks during that transition period. Less antlers and more tropical drinks.



Trad'r Bill asked "what's up with that crooked stogie?"

That's a culebra . . .

. . . which consists of three panatella cigars braided together. The story is that back in the day cigar factory workers were given three free cigars per day - in order to keep them from stealing the product, they were only allowed cigars with this unusual shape.

You cut the three cigars apart and smoke them separately - that's what you see in Vic's mouth - one of the three culebras which still retains it's crooked shape from the braiding.


Love these old photos!!!
Thanks all.

Thanks Koolau!


Koolau you are right on the money on the info of the cigars.Nice to hear someone once
in a while that knows what they are talking about when it comes to cigars.
Nice job Koolau .

Great thread here Trad'r Bill, some interesting stuff you all have posted. Thanks!


Cigars are my only vice. That and rum. And redheaded women.

Trad'r Bill,

Here is another menu from the Trader Vic's in Oakland I saw on ebay a while back. Different graphics than some of the other ones.


Cool - that one looks pretty late... hey DC, do you save every tiki image you come across? :D :D I'm glad you do!

Trad'r Bill

...crazy - look at this painting I saw today at TV's Emeryville:

Found a small menu mailer from this location today. Should have posted it here as well. here is the link to the post.

I came across another old shot of Vic behind his bar in Oakland... same photo shoot as the previous one with the culebra...
looks like there was some issue with the developing, but this is still probably the clearest shot I've seen of the bar:

See it full size here: http://www.wirtzbeveragegroup.com/wirtzbeveragegroup/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/TraderVic_WEB_Art.jpg

-Trad'r Bill

[ Edited by: Trad'r Bill 2010-11-17 22:26 ]

I figured I'd post these pics of my piece of the original bar at this location... this is probably my favorite Vic's item I've found.

Trad'r Bill

Ha haaah...indeed a classic in true Trader style.

I found this cool article about the move from Oakland to Emeryville November 23, 1972... They talk about a the $135 per person fundraiser they are having on the last day the Oakland location was open.

Interestingly, the salty dog turns out to have a soft side:
"The Trader, Victor J. Bergeron, didn't attend the closing of the "mother church," because, he said, "I'm a very emotional man. I didn't want to get a lump in my throat the size of a roadapple. It's part of my life that finished. I didn't want to get a tear in my eye."

Here's a great recollection of the true beginnings of Trader Vic's:
"The original small building included a bar, two booths, two pinball machines and two restrooms. Vic acted as bartender and cook. In 1938 the name was changed to Trader Vic's after a visit to Don the Beachcomber's in Los Angeles. "I looked over his place for a week, and decided I could build a better mousetrap," says the Trader. "When I changed the name I told everyone they'd be fired if they didn't call me Trader."

The whole article is great, it's really a summary of the life accomplishments of the Trader, and the history of the Oakland location. Let me know if anyone wants the whole text.

I'm always watching for pictures of the front doors of this location, so our buddy Mai Tai can have a pic of his doors in situ.

The pic in the bottom right of the above newspaper article seemed to be promising at first, but still too hard to see the doors. Here's the clearest shot I could find (from microfiche):

A little closer, and lighter, still can't see much detail:

Now the negative... I think I can stat seeing the pattern from Mai Tai's doors here:

I definitely see different planks that make up the doors, and can see the concentric circles, just like on Mr. Tai's doors. Call me crazy, but I think this is pretty good evidence!

Trad'r Bill


Super cool detective work, Trad'r Bill! I recently dragged the doors outside, and took good pictures of them in natural sunlight.

It will be a good "before" presentation, as the finish is pretty much all worn off of the exterior, there is some minor weathering along the bottom foot or so (but luckily the tool marks still show there, as well as everywhere else), and the doors have been tagged up nicely with graffiti. Hopefully I'll have them refinished and installed in the ol' home bar, next to Boris' rain window effect, by the end of the summer. Until then, here are some pics.

Close up

Are you looking at the doors, or are they looking at you?

Blank space meant for door handle. There's one of these blank panels on each door. Evidently the right door never had a handle installed, and there is a cheapy handle installed on the left door, but I'm going to install nice door handles once I find something really cool.

Bottom of doors, where weathering from exposure to the elements has occurred, and the finish is pretty much completely worn off.

Close up of bottom of door. Luckily the tool marks are still very prominent and visible. Iron wood is tough! And the spots by the hinge where there are some missing chunks of wood (probably broken off when the doors were hastily ripped out of their location either at Trader Vic's in 1972, or at Cabel's Reef in 2007) will be hardly visible at all once the doors are set into a door frame, and once installed in the location that I have picked in Casa de Mai Tai, those spots won't be visible at all.

Top of doors, where they were most protected from exposure to the elements, and part of the original finish is still intact. I don't know how "original" this finish is, though, as the doors are at least 50 years old and have been on two different establishments during their life.

Looks like I'm going to have to take a trip down to the Oakland Library, and make a few copies of that article! Thanks again for your research, Trad'r Bill! Stay tuned for more about the doors, probably most likely as a resto project in Creating Tiki.

On 2011-07-11 16:03, Mai Tai wrote:
Hopefully I'll have them refinished and installed in the ol' home bar, next to Boris' rain window effect, by the end of the summer.

Ahh the Rain Window Project I remember it well, especially since it's coming up on the Three Year Anniversary of the original post! :lol:

Let's take the conversation out of Locating Tiki and continue it over there.

Found a cool shot of the interior:

...notice the shakers and ash tray:

Pa'akiki recently shared this pic of an original painting from her collection - thank you so much!

As the story goes, it once hung at the Trader Vic's Oakland location. The former owner of the painting would meet her husband (who was in the service) at Vic's, and they would sit right underneath it. She loved the painting so much that Vic took it right off the wall and gave it to her one day. How cool!

The signature reads: "S. Simonet" who I think is Sebastian Felix Simonet. He was mentioned in the book: Artists in California 1786-1940 by Edan Hughes. Simonet died in 1948, so that dates the painting somewhat.

...notice the similarity to the early mailer:

I wonder which one of these came first??

-Trad'r Bill

Here is a 1940s menu I picked up a few months ago from this location.

Thanks Sandra Dee - I'm missing that one in my collection...

Here's some closeups of the early mailer Uncle Trav posted earlier (I finally got one):

-Trad'r Bill

Snagged this photo of a young Vic (and someone else) behind the gift shop counter:

...notice the fogcutter mug and Scorpion(?) bowl

...here's the examples from Life Magazine - I don't think it's a gremlin bowl, but hard to tell.

-Trad'r Bill

Came across this one in my archives - that's John Wayne at Vic's in Oakland:

Trad'r Bill

Trad'r Bill,

Those are some great photos from the archives. The Duke at Vic's, you gotta love that. I wish the resolution was better on that old photo so we could really see the mugs on that back shelf.

Keep up the good work,


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